MUSICSong of the Day

Song of the Week: Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker The Berry

“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015”

Those are big words to start both a year and a song off with. 

These are the kind of words that are almost essential to start Kendrick Lamar’s best song to date with. He has said so much with a concept album that dated the events of a rebellion that begins to question his life. With The Blacker The Berry, he may have said more than he ever has before. Like D’Angelo’s album Black Messiah, this song has been released at the right time (sadly during rough times). The fight against race hatred is only getting stronger, and Kendrick Lamar is not happy. He yells this entire song with anger. He bashes racists and then describes himself in such an offensively stereotypical way. He is tired of being defined, especially with over generalizations. He also blames himself for abandoning his roots and giving in to the image that African Americans have been given by society, and for that he feels the most hypocritical about. 

He questions what it means to be African American, and it isn’t easy to listen to. There is rage bouncing off all of the walls surrounding, and swallowing, Lamar. It is difficult to keep saying that Lamar has topped himself without sounding silly, but he has certainly done it again here. He hits a lot of hard truths that Kanye West touched upon with Yeezus. On Yeezus, West acted as a leader that talked about the new forms of racism African Americans are facing. Lamar is not above anyone. He has no image to uphold. He says it how it is without the fear of being dethroned. The Blacker The Berry is a fight song, a song of fear and an overarching question all in one. With so many purposes, it will speak a different message with each listen.

I’m not sure if Assassin’s  collaboration here is due to the previously mentioned similarity, but he packs a punch here as well. He acts as the person Lamar can bounce off of so he isn’t all alone. He also provides contrast and makes Lamar sound even angrier. Kendrick Lamar‘s work has been compared to Outkast’s Aquemini before, and the same can be said here. The vocals and reverb at the start, as well as Lamar’s animated rapping are very Outkast in heart. The music, produced by Boi-1da, is daunting and massive. Lamar does not have to carry the song at all, as it storms behind him with every roll and slam. Every turn in The Blacker The Berry is a calculated decision, and it all pays off with such expertise. Kendrick Lamar just won Grammys for his song I, and his form of response is to give out a song that is better than anything he has ever attempted (somehow). This is the kind of song strong enough to ring throughout a year, whether the new album drops or not. No need to compete, as it’s already leagues ahead of the pack this year.

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.